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As soon as a traveler exits the plane in Bangkok and zooms down Bangkok’s swarming freeway lined with modern buildings and billboards, he is awed by the immensity and energy of this sprawling city. Woven together by canals, bridges and freeways, Bangkok is a motley combination of old and residential as well as charged, hip and high-tech neighborhoods.
One of the best ways to orient ones self in Bangkok is to first take a guided boat ride through its winding canals, where one will pass residential homes built on the water, where locals will wave and floating markets with lush fruits and wild orchids will pass. One can exit the boat in Ko Ratanakosin , which is the oldest part of Bangkok. Here visitors traipse through the Royal Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho, where locals come to pray in the shade of the large golden reclining Buddha.
Just another boat ride away, visitors can stop at the famous Oriental Hotel to sip a coffee or cocktail and relax along the peacefully flowing river. In this part of town, Riverside, the Silom Road begins and runs along a tree-lined path past restaurant rows, hotels and office buildings. Silom Road ends at the infamous Patpong Road , the heat and heart of Bangkok’s energetic (and often-x-rated) nightlife is centered.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is another must-see area; settled in the late 18th century, it is a crazed maze of markets, apartments, crumbling facades, giant restaurants and trade stores. Here tourists can find anything from fans to light bulbs to phones to pearls while savoring a bowl of delicious noodle soup or dim sum on the way.
Siam Square is one of the most popular, crowded stops on the Skytrain (Bangkok’s above ground public transportation system). This square is home to immense Tokyo-esque shopping plazas, such as Mahboonkrong Center, Siam Discovery Center Siam Center and Siam Paragon, all filled with tourists, glittering lights and shops.
Banglamphu is Bangkok’s backpacker’s quarter. Right near by in
North Banlamphu is the royal district where the Chitralada Palace, the current residence of
King Bhumipol and
Queen Sirikit lies, though it is closed to the public for visits. Young expats tend to enjoy
Klong Toey which is a large, modern section of Bangkok with many new hip bars, clubs, hotels, apartments and malls. Bangkok offers a feast for the eyes for any type of person.
On a more humbling note, Klong Toey isn't just the place for young expats to go. Klong Toey has another face as well - it is the area where the less fortunate of Thai society live. Go and visit this area too. It will make you aware that Bangkok is not just glitter. It will also make you realize how fortunate you are.
Sukhumvit is another neighborhood which attracts the tourists most. In soi 1, there is the most reputed hospital of Bangkok, Bumrungrad. Most of the western expatriates staying in Bangkok prefer this Hospital. Foreigners from Middle East, East Africa and the Subcontinent are seen in group in this hospital, decor of which is comparable to any 5 star hotel interior. In Soi 4, there are plenty of pubs and night clubs which remain open till 3 am in the morning. The ambiance here at night is definitely noisy. In Soi 3 (alternatively known as Nana Nua), you would see lots of Arabian, Iranian, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi tourists. As such there are few good Arabian & Indian restaurants here which serve mouth watering foods at a competitive price.